In a video that has gone viral on social media, a senior police officer in Uttar Pradesh's Shamli district is seen massaging the feet of a Kanwar Yatra pilgrim. The city administration has made several arrangements including special health centers, to welcome the pilgrims of the Kanwar Yatra which began last week.
In one of these clinics, Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Ajay Kumar was seen on the video providing special service to a pilgrim.
"The video is from a health camp. I had been called to inaugurate the camp. I did this as a symbolic service to the pilgrims," the officer said.
Ajay Kumar said, "When our constables and inspectors can serve the injured and provide them first-aid, why can’t the chief provide relief to a tired and weak person. Imagine if a pilgrim, tired and dehydrated after a journey of 200-300 kilometers, falls on the road, then the police and administration will be accused of not adopting a ‘proactive’ approach. Hence, to avoid such an unfortunate incident, we took the step and our without any discrimination, our work will continue.”
The officer added that the canvas of modern policing is very wide. It should not be viewed with a narrow mindset. He said, "Security, service, community participation and policing are all part of the process. It is not appropriate to maintain distance from the public as part of policing. The concept of good policing is a farce without sensitivity and human values".
Arrangements are being made in different parts of the state to welcome the pilgrims. Officials from Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar showered flowers on pilgrims from helicopters on Friday. Last year, top police officers showered rose petals from a chopper to greet the pilgrims in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.
The government and the police have taken extensive security measures for the annual pilgrimage. The Delhi-Haridwar national highway has been closed till July 30. Schools and colleges in western Uttar Pradesh have also been ordered to shut.
The Kanwar Yatra is an annual pilgrimage of Lord Shiva's devotees. The Kanwariyas (pilgrims) visit Haridwar, Gaumukh and Gangotri in Uttarakhand and Sultanganj in Bihar to fetch holy waters from the Ganga river.
Last year, videos in circulation on social media had shown the pilgrims in acts of hooliganism, unchecked by the police.